What Your Technique Says About You

Sharpening a pencil might seem like a mundane task, but the method you choose can reveal insights into your personality and habits. Whether you turn the pencil or hold it still, prefer a knife over a sharpener, or opt for an electronic device, each approach reflects different traits and attitudes. 

This is my non scientific look at the different ways of sharpening a pencil and what they might say about you based on 45 years of sleepless nights worrying about how to get my pencil sharp.

1. Turning the Pencil While Holding the Sharpener Still

If you turn the pencil while keeping the sharpener still, it implies you are a busy person, sometimes impatient, always in a hurry, and controlling.

Pros: This method is quick and efficient, catering to those who need to get things done fast. You thrive in fast-paced environments and prefer to have control over your tools and tasks.

Cons: This approach can sometimes lead to frustration if things don’t go as planned, reflecting your impatience. This happens usually when using a cheap pencil that has the two halves that make the shaf with one half being of a grain in which the blade gets stuck.


2. Holding the Pencil Still and Rotating the Sharpener

If you hold the pencil still and rotate the sharpener, you are resourceful, cool and take things in your stride. This technique requires a bit more patience and finesse, indicating that you are adaptable and can manage different situations with ease. You don’t rush through tasks but approach them with a calm and steady mindset. Your resourcefulness means you can make the best out of any situation, always finding a way to get the job done.

Pros: Easier than the first method as the sharpener itself offer greater leverage an as such is easier to turn usually because its held with the favoured hand.

Cons: Because the sharpener blade rotates at an angle it can lead to the point breaking more often while sharpening

3. Using a Knife to Sharpen Your Pencil

Using a knife to sharpen your pencil is my favourite a sign of creativity and sometimes I am afraid to admit, represents disorganisation. This old-school method speaks to those who have a creative streak, often thinking outside the box. It’s a technique that allows for precision and personal touch, something that appeals to artists and innovators alike.

Pros: Can use any sharp knife.

Cons: It can be a bit messy and you need to always have a bin handy or move towards a bin and its easy to snag your finger if not a natural whitler.

4. Using a Hand-Cranked Winding Sharpener

If you prefer using a hand-cranked winding sharpener, it denotes a love of gadgets and an inquisitive mind. These sharpeners are fascinating little devices, and using one requires a bit of mechanical interest. You enjoy understanding how things work and probably have a knack for fixing things or finding innovative solutions. Your love for gadgets doesn’t stop at pencil sharpeners; you likely have a collection of intriguing tools and devices that you’ve picked up over the years.

Pros: Quick, easy and tidy.

Cons: If not made of a robust sturdy material they do break and parts are not easy to replace (blades being the exception).

5. Using an Electronic Sharpener

Lazy? Maybe willingly and freely abdicate control. While this might sound harsh, it’s more about preferring convenience and efficiency over manual effort. You like to simplify your tasks and use technology to make your life easier. There’s a certain pragmatism in your approach – why waste time and effort when a machine can do it for you?

Pros: Quick, fast and fun to watch.

Cons: This reliance on a gadget can sometimes lead to pencils disappearing at a rate of knots in the long term costing more money. Also requires batteries, cables or charging.

6. Using a Sharpener with a Shaving Collector

Finally, using a hand sharpener with a shaving collector shows a forward-thinking mindset with an ever so slightly OCD nature. You appreciate neatness and efficiency, preferring tools that offer clean and tidy solutions. This method ensures that you don’t leave a mess behind, reflecting your attention to detail and organisational skills. You like to keep things in order and are always thinking a step ahead to maintain a smooth workflow.

As with the method 1. and 2. you can choose to turn the sharpener or the pencil.

Pros: Tidy so long as it is not over filled.

Cons: If the lid is a clip-closed they often pop off spilling shavings everywhere.


Next time you sharpen a pencil, take a moment to consider your method and what it says about you. Whether you’re a busy multitasker, a resourceful problem solver, a creative free spirit, a gadget lover, a pragmatist, or an organised planner, there’s more to this simple task than meets the eye. Embrace your unique approach and sharpen your self-awareness and understanding.

And why not try a new method – go on you know you want to.